Archbishop Smith: The Door to Mercy and Hope
Like just about everyone, I always have with me a set of keys. I need them because I am always coming up against many locked doors. Without the right key, I won’t be able to enter. Sometimes, I fumble with the keys, forgetting which is the right one. I try one key after another, knowing that somewhere in the set is the one that fits the lock and enables the door to open.
There is one door that that we all seek to identify and unlock, that we all need to open, but to which we struggle to find the right key. That door is the one that opens to hope. We encounter many things that might tempt us to despair: tragedies, such as the horrible accident involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team; cruelties that human beings inflict upon one another, like the outrageous chemical attack the other day in Syria; illness; lack of employment, and so on. In the midst of so much suffering and pain, within ourselves and in others, where can we find the reason for hope? Where is the door? What key will open it? These are questions that have bedevilled humanity throughout history. Over time, we have used different philosophies and ideologies seeking to explain existence, striving to identify and open the door, only to find that the pathways upon which they open still leave us lost, wondering and confused.
As we ponder the Gospel passage from Sunday (John 20:19-31), the door to hope that we need to open becomes evident to us. It is Jesus. The narrative recounts for us the beautiful encounter between Jesus and Thomas, who is invited by the Lord to contemplate and touch his wounds. By contemplating those wounds, we see the truth of Jesus. They make evident to us the infinite depths of the love and mercy of God. They are the wounds of the Crucified and Risen Lord, who shows by his appearances to his apostles that he will remain with his Church always, as he promised. If we live by his love and mercy, we find in him the door that opens to hope, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
The key that opens that door is faith. “Do not doubt, but believe” is the command given by Jesus not only to Thomas but also to each of us. By faith we surrender the entirety of our lives into the hands of Jesus, with full trust in the power of his love and mercy. This is why St. John teaches that faith is the “victory that conquers the world” (1 John 5:4). It opens the door, which is to say, by faith our hearts open to Christ so that his mercy floods into our lives and thus grounds them in hope.
We might fumble to find the right keys that open the many doors we encounter on a daily basis, but when it comes to the key, which is faith, God gives us the help we need to be sure that we have that key always in hand. That assistance comes to us from the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is, as St. John tells us, “the one that testifies” to the truth of Jesus. In the Holy Spirit, we are able to say of Jesus, with St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”
Let us, then, pray daily to the Holy Spirit, that he will continually deepen within us the gift of faith, the key that opens the door to mercy and hope, the door, who is Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord.